[Exclusive Interview] – ‘THE SEEDING’ & The “HAZE” Of Horror

Over the last two decades, Texas-born actor Scott Haze has emerged as a talent who has straddled both big-budget features (Jurassic World Dominion, Venom) and critically-praised indies (Minari, Sound of Freedom, Old Henry).

And for lovers of disturbing horror films, the prolific Haze faced unsettling terror in Antlers and What Josiah Saw. Now the actor goes darker than ever before in The Seeding, where he plays a hiker trapped at the bottom of a remote desert canyon by a band of sadistic feral boys. In this exclusive interview, Haze talks about the making of The Seeding, which opens this Friday from Magnet Releasing following its world premiere at last June’s Tribeca Film Festival. (See HERE for a chat with The Seeding director Barnaby Clay).

After Antlers, What Josiah Saw and now The Seeding, you seem to be the go-to guy for very dark horror.

Well, when [producer] Guillermo del Toro calls and says, “Come do a movie,” I’m filled with gratitude. When he and [director] Scott Cooper offered me that Antlers role, I don’t think they were aware of how heavy I was. So, it was a very grueling process over four and a half months where I had to lose 82 pounds to show up at Antlers ready. The Seeding was a movie where it’s dark, but the preparation wasn’t as physically taxing. It was physical, the actual shooting of it. But I looked the most like myself in this one than almost every other movie I’ve ever done. So, that’s a new thing.

With all the shouting and screaming that you had to do in The Seeding, how long did it take before you lost your voice?

That’s a good question [laughs]. I did lose my voice, and I had to get a steroid shot because I could not speak. It was very hard on my body. I wouldn’t have been able to continue if I didn’t do that. I treat this [acting] thing with a lot of gratitude and appreciation that I’m in that position. So, like an athlete, if it’s the NBA finals, that athlete’s gonna give everything he can to that moment. And sometimes I do hurt myself because I go to those places just to give everything I can to it. It’s interesting you asked me about my voice. That was actually the hardest thing about The Seeding; I kept losing my voice.

What was your take on the character of Wyndham Stone?

I really related to Wyndham because I like to go hiking. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I love space, I love stars. I love going out with a camera and taking photos of the night sky. I always look for more things than stars in the sky. I’m heavily involved in the UAP/UFO discussion. So, I just love it. I relate it to Wyndham in that regard. And I could find myself in that circumstance. I’m shooting this film with Kevin Costner in Utah right now [Horizon: An American Saga]. And, I went hiking by myself on the weekend once, and I realized, “127 Hours was filmed around here. And that’s where it happened.” The sun’s going down, and I’m at least two hours back from where I am, and I don’t have cell service. And that happened to me after I shot The Seeding. And I said, “Are you an idiot, Scott? Did you not learn anything from The Seeding?” [Laughs] So, I could find myself in a circumstance like that, where I’m stuck [out in the middle of nowhere].

Location is so important to this movie. Talk about how that informed your performance.

Barnaby, my director, and Brian Etting, the producer, found this amazing location in Kanab, Utah where we shot the whole film. The landscape of Utah is really, really beautiful and has such a character behind it. It’s its own character. Shooting in the actual location was really hard to get to. We had to go through this small road, it was raining, just to get to set. The choice of shooting on that location is what gave us the sense of realism. It’s not special effects; we’re really in there. It played a big part for me.

How tough and physical was that 19-day shoot compared to some of the other films you’ve done?

Well, a lot of films you work on Tuesday, your Wednesday’s off then Thursday and Friday might be hard. You don’t work for a couple days. Like when I was shooting Jurassic World Dominion, we were quarantined, and I had a month off because we couldn’t leave. It was during the pandemic, and it’s a different experience. The Seeding is one of those ones where I’m pretty much in every scene. There was no time off. It was literally full-on from the minute I got up until the minute I went to bed.

Did you do the dangerous rope scenes yourself?

Yeah. I’m extremely scared of heights, so when I had to descend, it was one of the hardest, hardest things. And, I was a little spooked because we shot that the day after that Rust shooting happened, that tragic, tragic occurrence. And, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I have to go do this really scary, dangerous stunt tomorrow.” But we had such a good stunt team on it, I felt safe. Then once I felt safe with the stunts, I had to overcome the fear of heights. I see these guys doing parkour, and I just wonder, “Where is their mom and dad? Where’s their friends? Don’t jump off the skyscraper to another one! What are you doing? You could slip, and [then] you’re done.” I was actually really proud of myself that I was able to face that fear and do those stunts.

How about the cage scenes? What were they like?

That’s when it got wild, being in the cage. All I can say is, I hated being locked in there. I really stayed in there and just went all in. I stayed in the cage a lot. And it’s not fun being trapped in a cage, I’ll say that.

How did your first-time narrative director do on such a complicated location shoot?

Barnaby is one of the most unique humans I’ve ever met. That comes across in the actual film at the end of it. I loved working with him. He had such a clear point of view that was so unique that I just can’t wait to see what else he’s gonna do, because this is his first film. And that’s one of the things that drew me to it when I Zoomed with him for the first time and [later] met with him in person. I could sense that he was a real artist. He wasn’t just a Hollywood wannabe director. He’s a real, real, real artist, and he has such a unique and, at times, very twisted point of view that’s just genuine. It’s not like he’s trying to figure out how to be crazy or come up with these outlandish ideas. They just come to him, and he’s just a conductor for it. So, I’m very excited to see what he’s gonna create next.

What was it like working with the young cast? Did you isolate from them to add anything to your performance?

No, I loved those kids. They were just really sweet kids and actors. At times I had to stay alone, but after set, I went up to ’em, talked to them, and tried to be a positive influence on ’em by saying, “Thank you for coming to do this.” And I was really impressed with their work. They brought a sense of realism and uniqueness to those roles. And that’s again a testament to Barnaby and Brian just doing a really good job with casting.

Much of the film is just you and Kate Lyn Sheil. How was it working with her?

When I read the script, I said, “The only way this movie’s gonna work is if I have a working chemistry with whoever plays opposite me.” And when I met Kate Lyn, she was everything I could ever want in a partner and more because she’s a beautiful human, and she was willing to go to those dark places. I’m a person who gives everything I can to every moment. If it’s freezing, it’s OK because I’m really grateful to be doing what I’m doing. And Kate comes from the same spirit. She’s ready, she’s prepared, she’s talented, she’s smart, she’s kind, she’s generous, she’s so talented, and she’s a great person at the end of the day. She’s the full package of what you dream for in somebody to be acting opposite of.

What’s next for you?

I’m doing these movies with Kevin Costner right now called Horizon. It’s definitely not horror. It’s Kevin’s dream project, and he’s pouring his heart and soul into it. It’s gonna be one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

Tony Timpone